Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Minister of Education

[ reposting from Synergeo #45758, hyperlinks added ]

So as a former Minister of Education with portfolio, rotating position (might do it again), within, as ya'll know, our benign dictatorship called Python Nation, I've been marketing my to gnu math teachers as a way to rationalize IB level vector studies around our eternal war of incommensurability aka the concentric hierarchy and its unifying dynamisms (jitterbug etc.). has gone through several incarnations, but the common feature is to can the core polys, lately in the form of a MySQL database, with students needing both LAMP and MVC in some approximate form (might be Ruby on Rails), in addition to computer graphics (i.e. 4D++ stuff, Eulerian topics like V+F = E+2, part of any state standard worth beans, duh).

AFAIK, my next major gig will be in Chicago where I'm doing a parallel processing demo, in the sense of two tutors running on independent threads, Steve Holden being the other clown in the room, plus we have a plant maybe, a professional mathematician with lots of background in Bucky.

Anyway, it's not like I'm planning the whole show around just the VPython piece. Mostly I'm demoing the Portland prototype curriculum of tomorrow, which takes for granted these various 20th century breakthroughs, not just Fuller's. We do RSA in the context of a few simple theorems, simple to understand and use if not prove (Fermat's Little (not Last), Euler's for Totients). The point here is not to turn junior into a cryptographer necessarily, though knowing some helps, but to open doors in group theory, number theory. Can't tackle quantum physics without that notion of small groups, permitted operations amidst conservation laws. I'm sure that's what Bucky was talking about, in terms of his spun systems being likewise permutations with lots of suggestive angles.

Also on tap: some Fractals with PIL for after the break, drawing against my signature 4D Solutions collection.

In Synergetics news, Koski is barreling ahead with those Baer Cell studies, bringing the enneacontahedron into better focus as the last in a sequence of convex blobs, each dissectable into Baers in very definite ways. Those of us who prefer definite / finite in place of open ended and infinite, are having a field day. More in my blogs.


PS: here's the write-up for my Saturday Academy course in the spring. If you live in a city with nothing like SA:, maybe study the website and get some friends together. Students really flock to this kind of programming, know it's very good for their futures.

Computer Animation Programming

Supercharge your programming skills as
you learn the software Star Wars
animators, Google engineers, and
game designers use to make their
projects a success!

You will develop your Python skills
using simple vector-based geometry
in an object-oriented approach.
You'll get hands-on experience with
POV-Ray, a full-featured ray tracer
that can create stunning photo-
realistic computer-generated images
and animations and experiment
in VPython, a real-time game-like

Other topics include data structures,
classes and objects, control statements,
and reading and writing files.

Coyote Moon

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Originally uploaded by thekirbster.
Dave Koski is juggling those Baer cells again, getting cool enneacontahedron dissections. You'll find related reading at George Hart's web sites, also mine, Russell Towle's.

The five Baer cells, all zonohedra constructible with Zome, amalgamate sequentially as convex polyhedra, out to the enneacontahedron.

Dave is noticing the surface : total facet ratios apparently traverse the sequence 1:1, 1:2... 1:8, e.g. the five ways to build a hexahedron involve solo Baer cells, so 1:1, whereas dodecahedra might be assembled seven ways, always from 4 cells (4*6 = 24 facets, 12 on the surface, 12:24 = 1:2 and so on).

Additionally, eight icosahedra, seven rhombic triacontahedra, five with 42 faces, 2 with 56 faces, one with 72 faces, and a final enneacontahedron of 90 faces (the proverbial partridge in a pear tree), all fit into this simple, rational rubric.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just Ducky in Old Town

Pirate Lore
:: Dave's reading material ::

Pirate Tryals
:: excerpt ::

Friendly Staff
:: friendly crew ::

iPhone shots by DF

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Geeking Out

Trevor Blake is updating one of his articles, on how to build a 5/8ths geodesic dome out of 105 paper triangles, using just three distinct edge lengths and two kinds of triangles, a P type and an H type.

The Domebuilder's Handbook by John Prenis (1973) was influential, specifically the information on page 94 for building a 3-frequency icosahedrally based alternate, although we may differ in nomenclature, as I go with Classes I, II and III (what I learned down on the farm, as we say).

Anyway, I started with an rbf.Icosa object and scaled it by 1/radius for a radius of 1, meaning each of its E = 30 edges is slightly longer than 1. (V = 12, F = 20).

For center C, I added three vectors from the same triangle (X1, U1, Q1), and divided by 3, the resultant vector being said mid-point, at the intersection of perpendicular bisectors through each edge and opposite angle.

For other points I used scale factors of 1/3 along these same edges, did some vector subtraction and addition. These points then needed to be pushed out to touch the unit radius sphere, again by using radius reciprocals.

The resulting vectors were sufficient to check edge lengths and angles in the handbook. I'll do the open source thing and link to some code (my inhouse is a little different, sorry).

We did all this in Fine Grind, me using my Ubuntu Dell and Trevor occasionally snapping photos and wifiing them to me. Later, I posted more about our process to the Math Forum, with a link back to this post for more details, in case other design teams want to practice their paces.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Teaching Tools

plastic, for piano students

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yakking about TV

From Synergeo this morning, me replying to Alan.

Re: Scan Man on NUMB3RS

> Did you happen to catch that Scan Man episode
> on NUMB3RS?
> By the way, the fictitious name Union Parcel Express
> (UPE) was inspired by United Parcel Service (UPS).

I tend to avoid that show as it pisses me off too much, what with that Olympian know-it-all, giving every nerd false impressions of what it might be possible to be, and then some, feeding unrealistic ideas of the future. Of course it's great to know a lot of math and apply it, but how many guys like the guy in that show do you really think live outside some screenwriters' fertile imagination. At least with 'Buffy', you know it's fiction.

My cousin Mary was in ER @ Chicago General when the writers for that show came by with the intent to maybe stay awhile, get in the mood, take some of that back to their writing. The docs were thrilled, ordered lots of pizza. The writers stayed for a rather short time, lost their appetites, didn't return the next day. 'ER' the TV show is fiction as well.

People spoon feed themselves these worlds that don't exist, then can't understand why reality is not just like what they see on their televisions. Duh.

Hey, I'm not saying the average adult doesn't know the difference between reality and make-believe, but I think some of the more vulnerable, with a tenuous hold on "what's so" to begin with, are done a disservice by being placed in front of the TV and told to amuse themselves in that way.

OK, so maybe the History Channel and Discovery Channel have merit (love 'Myth Busters'), but so many kids get hooked on these highly fictional doctor, lawyer, and cop shows (NUMB3RS is basically one of the latter, a cop show, the odd-ball genius and/or psychic a standard role in that genre) that purport to be about the world in which we live (have that docu-drama and/or contemporary realism flair), whereas they're no more about the "real" FBI (or CIA or whatever) than 'X-Files' or 'American Dad' (both shows I like).


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Town Meeting

So this proved to be an interesting meeting, though perhaps a bit rarefied for teenagers, unless a budding Italian Renaissance intellectual type, which some are. Tara sat it out on the sidelines, after we saw Lionel Wolberger (of Synergeo) off on a safe journey home (he was visiting Portland on business).

Trevor and I, classified as full-blown Fuller freaks in some circles, kept our traps shut, as we've both heard ourselves speak, including in front of rapt audiences. I did manage to snap Trevor's picture on stage though, in a day of close-violations with my camera (I got stopped by a Powell's security officer shooting a book cover, which book I later bought (but hadn't yet -- had other lawyerly opinions about owning the rights to my own visual field, which I wisely abbreviated)). Lionel stocked up on comix (manga, etc.).

Back to the town meeting: very earnest and bona fide attempts to connect everyday Portland-minded themes with Fuller's rather esoteric namespace, as handsomely captured in this D.W. Jacob's screenplay (thinking televison), as performed by Doug Tompos. If Spano ever did a recording, I'd like to see that sometime, plus Ron's again. In the meantime, I've learned a lot about "Bucky puppets" from Trevor (he's learning the story through his Synchronofile), Westinghouse a sponsor (all way before my time mind you).

The panelists were pretty much in agreement that Bucky's focus on technology was at the expense of ignoring human nature, and therefore too narrow. Some guy in the back mentioned "artifacts" as sounding more anthropological (me noting the name of the fashion store across the street). There was some agreement, developed through improv, on the word "signals," as in free markets sending and receiving, through price information, weighted with whatever externalities.

Portlanders are intelligent, literate people in settings like this, conduct themselves appropriately and with self-mastery. I enjoyed the vibe and would gladly attend future such meetings, with the same panelists, rotating, whatever. I'd probably drink more coffee first though, as I was experiencing the consequences of arising early that morning, having had a full day, shades of Vilnius.

Good job Tim DuRoche of PCS for setting this up, an unexpected surprise, impactful, and a great bridge between theater world and the rest of it, in alignment with the building's stated function and purpose. Lots of professionalism in Portland. I consider us blessed.

Had I opened my mouth, I'd have said something about wanting detailed exhibits @ OMSI about how the different water systems interplay, like Bull Run's and Nehalem's. Let's not just talk about resources in the abstract. Those LCDs (like the ones in the theater) need to be data rich, not data poor, pumping out relevant global data 24/7, about infrastructure, about glitches (not just traffic snarls)).

That's the classism I care about (access to relevant info), consider us all relatively impoverished outsiders, compared to what it could and should be like, were World Game taken more seriously (spoken like a true, die-hard buckaneer, I realize).

What especially intrigued me about this discussion is no one really took issue with Fuller's premise that we have, at least in principle, the wherewithal to enable peoples' enjoyment of higher living standards, by continuing to do more with less.

Deficiencies in human nature were seen as putting a brake on that happening, with better education our best means for addressing these shortcomings. This view marks a shift in outlook perhaps, as not so long ago people were more doubtful that we had the requisite know-how and resources even in principle.

Why don't we teach kids how to cook anymore? High schools gave up on Home Economics almost two generations ago. Although Tara didn't attend this meeting, she agreed this question was important, cooked a meal the very next day, following a recipe.

From separate occasions: Interviews w/ Allegra Fuller Snyder & D.W. Jacobs (Portland Center Stage):

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fall Market


Skull Candle

Mohava Marie Niemi


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Smiley Guy

Hey, It's OK
photo by Jody Francis
owner, Fine Grind
(framed face by FSphotographers)

The story on the martian character tie comes from my International School days, when a local high powered exec decided he'd like a photo op, of him supporting some Model UN, good news in the papers.

Non-obvious in this picture: my NATO surplus winter trousers, part of my Santa Fe look.

So we're sitting around the library, a bunch of us cliquey high schoolers yakking up a storm, brainstorming whom to send from each country (he's requested a multi-national cast), when Josh Hoyt -- his dad this cool cultural attache with the embassy -- says "let's send Kirby, he's from Mars" (laughter). That seemed to stick, and he (I) was "the Martian" from then on.

But there's more to this story.

Once we bussed to the venue, a big auditorium with a UN-like vibe, they sat us down for a photo op, me behind the USA flag with my team (Stuart Min?), incognito in my true role as ET.

We went around by the script, making pretty speeches, until we got to me.

"Hey" said I, "we're all friends back in high school, not divided, not conquered, by this nation-state concept, let's unite without the flags!" (paraphrasing).

Instead of banging my shoe, I laid the flag to one side, suggesting others do the same, which they did, quite willingly I might add -- a victory for school spirit!

But there's more, getting hazy at this point, my moment of glory having passed...

We must have gone ahead with that photo op right? I mean, this high powered exec wasn't about to get gypped (railroaded) out of his positive press coverage by the likes of "lonesome cowboy" here, the show must go on.

Still, I thought we had a some real fun in the sun that day.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Wild America

Wild Beauty
a Portland youth
photo by K. Urner